This multi-part blog series will focus on current industry trends and where experts see these trends heading in the near future. Executives should research these trends and ask themselves if they are applicable to their own company. These trends typically will increase efficiency and profits while decreasing administrative efforts and down time. 

Customer Service Automation

            Currently only 13% of small businesses have marketing automation in place. This number was expected to rise to nearly 30% by the end of 2020. Due to COVID-19, this could slip to 2021; however, the economic downturn and slowdown in production should not detract from moving to these industry trends. To learn more about the “why not” see my blog IT Health Check During the Current Economic Slowdown. Automating marketing can boost your business sales, improve productivity of your sales department, differentiate you from your competition and meet the customer demands as we go through the 2020’s. Marketing automation includes using Customer Relationship Management services such as Salesforce or HubSpot. These online resources should be used to automate workflows and email touchpoints to current customers and the sales funnel. Automation can be used to nurture the potential sales from the top of the funnel down through the qualified leads. This automation reduces administrative time from sales representatives which they can then use to create a trusted partnership with their clients. 

            Automation can be used post close-of-contract as well. Contacting the client after the sale is critical, this can be done via automation throughout the year and automation can be used to set reminders automatically for the sales representatives. Automation can also be used for preparing the deal instead of manually completing a deal. Automation should be used to reach out automatically to lost clients. Companies with subscription services should use automation to reach out to subscribers close to renewal and those that didn’t renew. Both of these workflows will increase retention rates. It is cheaper to keep your existing subscribers than have to continually obtain new ones. 

Chatbots / AI

            Chatbots should be used on every website in 2020. The evolution of chatbots has advanced so much and Millennials through Generation Z all expect some form of “robot” for initial contact. By implementing chatbots you are able to reduce the conversations needed with a sales representative and the chatbot can also help route the conversation to the appropriate sales representative based on need of the client. As the chatbot advances, you will find that it will take less time from the sales team which provides scalable growth to your company. This scalable growth translates to profit and better efficiency. 

            Artificial Intelligence should be incorporated also with sales websites. Any site selling multiple products or tiers should use AI. AI will increase your website sales figures by helping your client find the right product, upsell, and cross sell. All of us are used to these tactics with retailers, but this should now be common practice for all sales websites. Industry trends help guide where technology is going and provides a path for small and mid size companies without requiring them to be the pioneers (higher expenses). These trends are relevant and proven tactics to increase sales, to see higher retention, and to increase profit with a quick return on investment.

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